Tuesday, December 20, 2022

TWITTER FILES: Pentagon Weaponized Twitter For Online PsyOp Campaign



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The next release of the Twitter Files reveal the Pentagon used Twitter to deploy its own domestic and international psychological operation campaigns.

In other words, Twitter has been operating as a military asset.

Journalist Lee Fang, tasked by Twitter CEO Elon Musk with dropping Part 8 of the ongoing Twitter Files exposé, revealed on Tuesday internal documents showing Twitter was used by the Pentagon to advance its “covert online psyop campaign” regarding U.S. foreign policy.


*How Twitter Quietly Aided the Pentagon’s Covert Online PsyOp Campaign*

Despite promises to shut down covert state-run propaganda networks, Twitter docs show that the social media giant directly assisted the U.S. military’s influence operations.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

Fang noted that Twitter had claimed it specifically followed a policy of thwarting “government-backed platform manipulation” before noting that Twitter made an exception for the U.S. government’s own psyops.

3. But behind the scenes, Twitter gave approval & special protection to the U.S. military’s online psychological influence ops. Despite knowledge that Pentagon propaganda accounts used covert identities, Twitter did not suspend many for around 2 years or more. Some remain active.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

Fang highlighted specific correspondence from the Defense Department’s Central Command (CENTCOM) requesting Twitter grant “whitelist” privileges to accounts meant to “amplify” propaganda advocating U.S. military priorities in the Middle East.

5. The same day CENTCOM sent the list, Twitter officials used a tool to grant a special “whitelist” tag that essentially provides verification status to the accounts w/o the blue check, meaning they are exempt from spam/abuse flags, more visible/likely to trend on hashtags.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

This included anti-Iran and pro-Yemen war messaging, and “accurate” drone strike information purportedly targeting terrorists.

7. CENTCOM then shifted strategies & deleted disclosures of ties to the Twitter accounts. The bios of the accounts changed to seemingly organic profiles. One bio read: “Euphrates pulse.” Another used an apparent deep fake profile pic & claimed to be a source of Iraqi opinion. pic.twitter.com/VVVb15BDQ2

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

Though Twitter employees may not have been aware of the company’s involvement in promoting U.S. propaganda, Fang revealed that top Twitter executives were not only well aware of the DoD’s propaganda efforts using fake accounts, but they even tried to conceal the company’s ties with the U.S. government.

9. For example, Twitter lawyer Jim Baker mused in a July 2020 email, about an upcoming DoD meeting, that the Pentagon used "poor tradecraft" in setting up its network, and were seeking strategies for not exposing the accounts that are “linked to each other or to DoD or the USG.”

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

Fang revealed emails from Twitter lawyers Stacia Cardille and James Baker – a former FBI lawyer involved in the Russia collusion hoax – discussing strategies to conceal involvement with the government.

In one email, Cardille claimed the DoD may be using “retroactive classification” of its covert social media activities to “avoid embarrassment.”

11. In several other 2020 emails, high-level Twitter executives/lawyers discussed the covert network and even recirculated the 2017 list from CENTCOM and shared another list of 157 undisclosed Pentagon accounts, again mostly focused on Middle East military issues.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

In August 2022, the Pentagon’s psyop was stumbled upon by the Stanford Internet Observatory, which found the operation was deployed in Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, and other social media apps.

14. In August 2022, a Stanford Internet Observatory report exposed a U.S. military covert propaganda network on Facebook, Telegram, Twitter & other apps using fake news portals and deep fake images and memes against U.S. foreign adversaries. https://t.co/dNH175YZmo

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

“The U.S. propaganda network relentlessly pushed narratives against Russia, China, and other foreign countries. They accused Iran of “threatening Iraq’s water security and flooding the country with crystal meth,” and of harvesting the organs of Afghan refugees,” Fang reported.

16. The Stanford report did not identify all of the accounts in the network but one they did name was the exact same Twitter account CENTCOM asked for whitelist privileges in its 2017 email. I verified via Twitter’s internal tools. The account used an AI-created deep fake image. pic.twitter.com/ODLvK7eFlH

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

When Twitter was forced to delete many of these accounts following Stanford’s findings, it was praised by the mainstream media as an unbiased arbiter of policy enforcement.

18. The reality is much more murky. Twitter actively assisted CENTCOM’s network going back to 2017 and as late as 2020 knew these accounts were covert/designed to deceive to manipulate the discourse, a violation of Twitter’s policies & promises. They waited years to suspend.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

“The reality is much more murky. Twitter actively assisted CENTCOM’s network going back to 2017 and as late as 2020 knew these accounts were covert/designed to deceive to manipulate the discourse, a violation of Twitter’s policies & promises. They waited years to suspend,” Fang noted.

Not only that, but Twitter worked closely with MSM outlets like the Washington Post to minimize the optics of the reporting.

19. Twitter’s comms team was closely in touch with reporters, working to minimize Twitter’s role. When the WashPost reported on the scandal, Twitter officials congratulated each other because the story didn’t mention any Twitter employees & focused largely on the Pentagon. pic.twitter.com/0cDwdguGpy

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

Don’t expect the mainstream media to critically cover this important development in the Twitter Files, as it would not only damage their handlers in the intelligence community, but also highlight their inaccurate and sycophantic reporting.

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